My place on Earth?

Gdańsk-Oliwa, because of the seashore, forests, and moraine hills, the view from the bay window in Kwietna Street, the sandy trails.

Apart from music, I am interested in …

Finding an answer to the questions surrounding the sense of art, and discovering an ‘objective’ definition of beauty. What is art? In my opinion it should trigger our emotions, move us, inspire admiration, but also make us feel more beautiful, as we become enriched with the beauty we derive from art.

Places to travel?

Malta - sunshine, architecture and, despite it being an island, the sense of boundlessness!

Scotland - austere, like Norway, but that incredible landscape…

Columbia - full of energy, just like people from South America.

Venice - with its autumn mists, the church on the island of Torcello, and the mosaics.

China - the most fascinating encounter with a different culture.

Vietnam - the Italy of Asia.

Scandinavia - the austerity of nature, unique light, the ability to create a mood (candles!).

Kashubia - Stone Circles, and the silence and magic there.

Przemyśl and the view from Kalwaria Pacławska towards Ukraine.

Dreamt of destinations, still to visit?

Mexico and the Shetland Islands.

Sources of inspiration

There are moments, insubstantial but remembered, often caused by the „genius loci” of the places where I stay, play, listen and watch…
A view from the window, a single line of a poem, or even just a few words, a gush of sea breeze, the colour of clouds at sunset.

The most important and memorable concert performances, and why?

I remember best those concerts during which I had an impression that I was actually composing the piece I was performing, and also those at which I encountered a strong feeling of communication with the audience. Those were not necessarily the events held in ‘top’ concert halls of the world – from those prestige occasions I recall huge stress and the internal imperative ‘I must!’. Obviously, there were exceptions, such as my first performance during the Warsaw

Autumn with Panufnik’s Concerto in 1990 at the Warsaw Philharmonic, the recital with Ewa Podleś in Philadelphia, where we received a standing ovation after the first part of the concert – Haydn’s ‘Ariadne on Naxos’, and the recital in Herkulessaal, Munich, where I played Bach’s
Variations and felt the audience listening intently, following me.

Other memorable concerts were those in Winchester (UK) when a chorus of birds suddenly broke into song while I was playing Schubert, and the fragrance of freshly mown grass drifted through opened windows. Also Białystok, the hall in the Branicki Palace with Olga Pasiecznik – we were
performing Duparc’s Songs, about death. The emotional tension among the public, or rather the invisible thread linking us and the listeners, was incredible!

Lately – my recital at the Gliwice Palm House, among lush greenery, in humidity reaching 90 percent, playing for the audience almost ‘hidden in the bush’ – I could feel them breathing, greedy for music.

My first Bach recital at the Warsaw Philharmonic. Performing Bach on Good Friday at the Ethnographic Museum in Pruszków, when I asked the audience not to applaud. There was only Bach and the lights went out together with the last chord. I wanted everybody to leave the concert just with the music in their souls.

The first concert under Witold Lutosławski at the Silesian Philharmonic in Katowice – played with that concern, ‘don’t spoil the composer’s work in his presence’.

Lutosławski’s Concerto performed to mark the centenary of the Warsaw Philharmonic under Kazimierz Kord, when only music mattered. I could feel the audience’s friendliness and the musicians’ concentration.

Concerts in Saint Petersburg – a special audience there, well-educated and music-thirsty, and all those flowers received from complete strangers.

A concert in Uzzhorod (Ukraine) – in a magnificent synagogue turned into a movie theatre with exquisite acoustics. I began my recital with the hall only half-filled with audience members; as I played the number of listeners steadily grew (thanks to mobiles!) until the end when I was given
virtual storm of applause for Bach, Mozart, Chopin and Panufnik.

The concert at Théâtre des Champs Elysées, where I played with the Silesian String Quartet as an unplanned replacement, performing Chopin’s F-minor Concerto in the chamber version. I could sense that my Chopin had been so well-received, well-understood and the atmosphere so
special, that I dared play the entire second movement as an encore.

And finally, chamber concerts with Dang Thai Son – a true music-making experience. Nothing trivial counted, not the dress, nor the piano stool. Just becoming one with the sound… playing Mozart as Mozart, Chopin as Chopin and Schubert as Schubert.

And conductors?

There are four of whom I think with endless warmth, almost love. Each one different, each one leaving his own ‘mark’ on me.

Kazimierz Kord, with whom I have played the greatest number of concerts and at least half of my repertoire for piano with orchestra (Bach, Mozart, Chopin, Ravel, Saint-Säens, Grieg, Panufnik, Lutosławski, Szymański). He taught me how to perform and record with the orchestra, how to listen to music, how to evaluate myself and how to survive several weeks on a concert tour.

Jerzy Maksymiuk, who showed me how to approach contemporary music (with lessons over the phone from Glasgow devoted to Lutosławski’s concertos), and helped me discover that a performance does not have to be meticulously planned, that instead one should try to surrender to the moment. I always found Maksymiuk’s attitude towards the musicians of his orchestra and his care for the sound quality amazing – playing a concerto by Mozart he did not spend time tuning the chords to achieve a pure sound but instead insisted on people listening to one another – to ‘co-sound’.

Wojciech Michniewski, with whom I played my first concert abroad, in Karlovy Vary, and with whom I premiered Panufnik‘s Concerto (to be followed by many other performances of that work). He devoted much of his time to me, rehearsing and discussing various musical works.
Henryk Czyż, with whom I played only once, recording Beethoven’s First Concerto, and who made me see playing not as work but as pure pleasure. I do not hesitate to say that he imparted a certain ‘lightness of being’ to me, yet one not devoid of discipline.

Henryk Czyż, with whom I played only once, recording Beethoven’s First Concerto, and who made me see playing not as work but as pure pleasure. I do not hesitate to say that he imparted a certain ‘lightness of being’ to me, yet one not devoid of discipline.

Favourite pianists and other musicians?

Radu Lupu, Martha Argerich, Vladimir Sofronicki, Artur Rubinstein, Ella Fitzgerald, Leonard Bernstein, Emma Kirkby, Maria Callas.

Favourite painters, writers, composers, movies, museums?

Painters: Rembrandt, Titian, Vermeer.

Writers: V. Nabokov, G. G. Marquez, P. Huelle, T. Mann, A. Chekhov, R. M. Rilke, K. Iłłakowiczówna.

Book: R. Rolland „Colas Breugnon” – because it taught me authentic optimism and joy.

Composers: Bach, each note written in praise of God and loaded with optimism, even in Trauer Ode; Schubert, for his sorrow and the emotions…

Movies: ‘Babette’s Feast’ by Gabriel Axel, ‘Tous les matins du monde’ directed by Alain Corneau, ‘Panny z Wilka’ directed by Andrzej Wajda, ‘The Secret Garden’ directed by Agnieszka Holland, ‘Cave of Forgotten Dreams’ and ‘Fitzcarraldo’ by Werner Herzog, ‘The Day of the Jackal’ by Fred Zinnemann.

Museums: Prado, for its space to display sculptures; Musée d’Orsay, for its applied art exhibition; Hermitage, for they have almost everything there; also, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo.

Why do I sometimes have the inspiration to write – including this interview with myself?

To share with other people my experience, observations, delights and ask a potential reader questions to which I keep looking for answers myself. Still, I want to emphasize that what is most important is the quest itself…

Why do I sometimes bake?

Because the smell of baking is the smell of home. I recall my youthful years when an apple tart baked by my Dad was always waiting for me on the table whenever I came back to my Parents’ home, making me feel expected, showing that someone had been waiting for me.

My favourite cuisine?

Nela’s – from a cookbook written by Aniela Rubinstein. Also, Italian cuisine.

People who have had the greatest impact, both human and artistic, on my personality, and why?

My Mum – because she encouraged me to keep exploring music and never abandon self- development.

My Dad – because he engrained the habits of systematic work and discipline in me.

Jerzy Sulikowski – because he taught me to play the instrument and discovered my musical interests that suited my type of musicality.

Jadwiga Sukienicka – because she made me sensitive to details and inspired a search for lightness.

My husband Stanisław Leszczyński – because he shaped my musical taste, pointed out the necessity of looking for artistic truth and widened my horizons immensely (informed historic performance, performance styles, knowledge of global discography).

Marek Moś – because he taught me to read the score and notice all details; being a contemporary counterpart of the „Renaissance Man”, in a sense he shaped my view on music but, as he is a profoundly thinking humanist, also on interpersonal relations.

Kazimierz Kord – because he believed in my abilities; he was always encouraging me to act.

Andrzej Chłopecki – because he opened my eyes to the world of contemporary music.

Composers whom I had the honour to work with and perform the music they wrote for me/p>

Because they were insightful, uncompromising, had crystal-clear views on things. I was always curious to find out how they perceived reality – the same way as I did, or differently?

What is life about?

In matters that we have under our control: life is about finding the right proportions between work and leisure, between what is vital and what we can let go.

In a single word: the clue is in the proportions, just like in ancient art, especially architecture.

To be able to separate professional passion from life, devoting due time and attention to the latter.

And in matters we cannot control: we should enjoy the good that life has in store for us and find in ourselves the humility and acceptance of the outcomes of fate, not neglecting to nurture our fighting spirit.

Life is wonderful and worth living, despite the tears…

Definition of an artist?

An artist is a person who, regardless of his or her situation in life, demonstrates creative will, intuition and the ability to constantly search for new means of expression to convey thoughts and  emotions.

…I do not mention my family…

this is the question you should ask my daughters.

I dream of….?

Long walks along the sea coast.

Being able to see a true opera or theatre performance without the addition of rubber boots, swimming pools, brothels, dirty words or provocations. It could be some Classical Greek play with a chorus and a protagonist… But it should treat the words (or music – for instance in Mozart’s opera) as the priority.

The world in which the man’s right to enjoy silence is observed.